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ARABS-ISRAEL - July 1 - Israel Bombs Offices Of Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel intensifies its campaign against the ruling Palestinian Hamas movement, with fighter jets bombing the Gaza City office of the PM Ismail Haniyeh. Both Israel and Hamas said after July 2 strike that there was no agreement on the release of corporal Gilad Shalit - whose capture in a cross-border raid by Palestinian militants last week sparked the current stand-off - in exchange for prisoners held by Israel. Israel's PM Ehud Olmert, told a cabinet meeting that "surrendering today means inviting more extortion", categorically rejecting an exchange of prisoners. But a Hamas official, quoted by Israel's Haaretz newspaper, said the militants holding the soldier had received an offer for the future freeing of an unspecified number of prisoners in return for the captive's immediate release. He said the offer came with a personal guarantee by Egypt's Pres Hosni Mubarak, who is seeking to mediate in the crisis, but the captors were likely to turn it down. The raid on the Palestinian PM's office in the early hours of July 2 did not cause any casualties. Haniyeh, touring the site after the strike, said the attack "targeted a symbol for the Palestinian people" and was part of "the continuing Israeli aggression". He repeated his vow that the Hamas-led government would continue to function. Israel last week detained dozens of Hamas lawmakers and several cabinet ministers in the West Bank in response to the capture of the soldier, according to officials. The attack followed weeks of rising tensions, with at least 14 Palestinian civilians killed in Israeli actions against rocket fire from Gaza. Hamas last month called off its 18-month cease-fire in response to the civilian deaths. PA Pres Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah movement, implied on July 1 that Haniyeh had no influence over the fate of the captured soldier. "Ismael Haniyeh, the current PM of the Hamas government, appears not to have any say in what is going on in this regard", Abbas said. He said that Egyptian mediation efforts were complicated by the lack of a clear interlocutor on the part of Hamas. The president still had confidence in a negotiated solution but warned that the situation could yet worsen in Gaza. Israel acknowledged that it had stepped up its campaign against Hamas. Amir Peretz, defence minister, said the military was increasing "the quality of our targets". In a move that seemed at least partly aimed at deflecting international concern over the humanitarian toll of the operations in Gaza, Israel allowed food and medical supplies to enter the Gaza Strip. An official said the Karni cargo crossing was to open intermittently over the next four days. The main concern in Gaza is a looming lack of fuel needed for electricity generators, after Israel knocked out a power station last week.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Jul 8, 2006
Previous Article:ARAB AFFAIRS - July 7 - Abdullah And Mubarak Hold Talks On Palestinian Situation.
Next Article:ARABS-ISRAEL - July 3 - Israelis Reject Captors' Deadline.

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